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“Maggots in the Rice”

January 13, 2011

The phenomenon of female infanticide is as old as many cultures, and has likely accounted for millions of gender-selective deaths throughout history. It remains a critical concern in a number of “Third World” countries today, notably the two most populous countries on earth, China and India. In all cases, specifically female infanticide reflects the low status accorded to women in most parts of the world; it is arguably the most brutal and destructive manifestation of the anti-female bias that pervades “patriarchal” societies. It is closely linked to the phenomena of sex-selective abortion, which targets female fetuses almost exclusively, and neglect of girl children.

Not to compare the two (Western civilization and its privileged circumstances to China/India) at all, however, I did think of the expression “Maggots in the Rice” when I heard that John Travolta (56) and Kelly Preston (48) had a replacement son for the one they lost to an unfortunate condition. John and Elizabeth Edwards did the same thing. In both cases, a male child was lost. The Edwards’ boy to a car crash and the Travolta’s boy to an ailment. Travolta and Preston have a living daughter and the Edwards have two living daughters. Nevertheless, those daughters were simply not enough to carry on the patriarchal legacy, a son was essential.

Yet, we are told that society is equal and boys are not favored over girls.

  1. January 13, 2011 5:02 am

    Title borrowed from Kingston’s The Woman Warrior.

  2. Pseudoadrienne permalink
    January 13, 2011 7:19 am

    When my eldest sister-in-law became pregnant for the third time, after having two daughters (spaced over about five years), initially my brother was angry due to their finances (and just like a male he placed *all* the blame on her for the unwanted pregnancy). Oh but when they found out the fetus was male, my brother was jublient and a-okay with the pregnancy. He would prattle on about having an heir at last and the family being “complete”. And, sigh, my sister-in-law was in agreement with his sentiments and she underwent tubal ligation after the birth, and after years of my brother “thinking about” getting a vasectomy. It’s another example of the dehumanizing devaluation of daughters and our sex in general. Patriarchy is gynocide, no matter how “subtle” and even if it lacks outright violence.

    • January 13, 2011 2:09 pm

      My sister and her husband did the same thing. She would have ended up with 12 children if that is what it took.

      It is not hard to believe or unreasonable to assume someone’s motives when it has been done time and time again.

    • January 13, 2011 2:10 pm


      The “subtle” female hating messages hurled at females from cradle to grave ARE more “outright” violent than a fist to the face. A black eye will fade after a week or so, and while the girl/woman may suffer from bruises inside that take a lot longer to heal, outside of her, all around her she doesnt see that fist in the face as a constant reminder. Those “subtle” message on the other hand, there is never a reprieve from. And unlike that fist that bashes only one women, those “subtle” messages bash ALL women, ALL places and at ALL times.


    • Pseudoadrienne permalink
      January 13, 2011 2:36 pm

      That’s very true, dirt. Being told repeatedly how “less than” you are simply because you are female is psychological battery. It’s misogynistic propaganda drilled into the heads of women and girls until they become complicit in (and even in enthusiastic agreement with) the misogynistic terrorism being committed
      against them and every woman and girl. You’re right, dirt…why go through all the trouble of beating the hell out of someone, when obliterating their mind, their will to fight for themselves and others, is far more devastating? A body can’t do much without a mind.

    • January 13, 2011 2:46 pm

      I feel uncomfortable attempting to elevate physical violence over emotional violence or the other way around. Maybe Dirt means if there was no physical or emotional violence at all, ever, and the options (if there must be an option) were “a onetime punch to the face” vs. “a lifetime of emotional/verbal abuse.” However, as it stands now in our current patriarchal society, a punch to the face is in addition to the continuous emotional/verbal abuse that is heaped on females beginning in the womb.

  3. January 13, 2011 2:08 pm

    If it is not clear, there is a very big gap of time in the first “set” of children and the second, which is the reason I concluded the second set of children came along as a replacement child for the son. Also, the Edwards used fertility drugs and more than likely so did the Travoltas (I cannot say for certain because I haven’t seen anything that mentions it specifically). When the Edwards first replacement child was female, they went on to have another, a son. As in, they tried until they got it “right.” The Travoltas follow the same path, except their first attempt was male. Or I should say, their first public acknowledged attempt. And the timing is suspect. The Edwards had not had children since the early 80’s. However, when the son died in 1996 it was only two years later when the next child was born. The same with the Travoltas (Although Preston has never taken Travolta’s name, I grouped them as one to limit confusion in writing), they had their replacement son two years after the death of the first son.

  4. January 13, 2011 2:53 pm

    Granted, I’m not a Hollywood insider, but I hadn’t even known that the Travoltas had a daughter. I honestly had only ever heard about the one son, and now this new one.

    Yeah I don’t know what’s wrong with female people if/when any of us don’t want to divert our attention, energy, and resources to ostensibly beleaguered males instead of ourselves and other female born people. At LEAST the female fetuses and infants who are murdered solely for being female had the DIGNITY of being acknowledged as female first!

  5. la redactora permalink
    January 13, 2011 7:20 pm

    Kitty, I had never heard that expression before.

    Thanks for making me gag

    Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
    Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens….Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
    Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens….Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
    Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens

    Okay that kind of helped.

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